A Bridge to Eternity: A serial story for Halloween–enjoy! Part 1

time

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Love is stronger than death
1995

The day he died spring was unfolding gently on the face of the earth; leaves unfolding from the trees in the kind of new green that erases all thought of the deadness of winter. It seemed a contradiction of the life springing all around her that he should be dead, he so full of life, life that left him in the night while the world slept, left quietly, with no trace that he had ever walked in the green grass under the leaves of the trees in springtime. There, then gone. A blink. She reeled. The world seemed topsy-turvy –all at once vertigo hit her and screams erupted from her that seemed to come from hell and tear apart eternity.
It could have been that he stood next to her, that screams of grief can indeed rip the fabric of all we know, to filter into what lies parallel, to lie at the feet of those we cannot see.
Days later, she was travelling north, to the place she had not been since she was very young, car packed to the gills with the meager possessions she held dear. She had left her husband behind, suddenly seeing past the veneer of the life she had gone on to. None of it was real; she had been playing the part orchestrated for her by expectation. She had not loved the one she married; in the face of death, she suddenly saw what had been real and what had not. This grief was the only real thing in her life now; travelling up Highway 53, inexorably drawn north, to her lake, to the cries of gulls wheeling and dipping atop white capped waves.
Having left all she had behind, all that existed is what lay before; to start again, or not, the way before was as tangled as her hair blown by the wind, and she did not know what to unravel first. She drove on, the mile markers whizzing past counting down the miles until she would have to face herself and death, finality, nothingness.
She did not love the one she married, she who prided herself on verity, on living true, on never being deceiving, to find she had been playing a part cut deeply, and guilt oozed from every pore. What kind of person was she, she wondered to herself, to have lived with a man she did not love? Was she that lonely, that desperate, that faithless? That stupid? While distance to home closed, the distance in her heart widened to an unfathomable abyss.
She had gone on. She had accepted long ago that it would never be, she had flown round the world; running, really, from this thing that had sneaked up on her, and was too big to reach around, this love, she too young, he too old, the distance that was really no distance at all.
He sat next to her in the car looking out the window, feeling her pain and bewilderment, like knives. He reached across and touched the hand that lay in her lap, to let her know he was there.
She felt something on her hand, a sort of energy that felt like static electricity. The sensation made her jerk her hand back up to the steering wheel, and it also made her think of him. There was no way, of course, no way. He was just…gone. That was all. When you’re dead, you’re dead, she thought, you disappear. A tear slipped down her cheek.
Remembering Rilke, and feeling the keenness of her doubt, feeling invisible, he recited softly, How shall I hold on to my soul, so that it does not touch yours?
Still driving, the cab dimly lit by the green dash light, she found herself reciting aloud the final line How shall I lift it gently up over you on to other things? She realized that perhaps, even, with this death, that she had stopped believing in God. Perhaps now, she believed in nothing. There was only emptiness, and the sky above contained no God, only stars, and atmosphere, and more empty space beyond. What was there, she mused, to have faith in, exactly?
Then, seeing the lights on the hill ahead of her, she resolved to find out what “moving on” would come to mean. Lifting my soul gently up over you on to other things. She didn’t know why that line had gone through her head. She thought about what it meant. Forgetting, she supposed. Forgetting, wound healing, scabbing over, another layer of stone, a hardening. And that was the very thing she did not want most in all of the world. She did not want to forget . Forgetting would mean he meant nothing to her at all if she could forget him in the healing. No, she would not heal if forgetting would be the result. Her mind went back to the unanswerable question: what happens when you die?” Becoming angry at the question she opened the window, turned up the rock music on the radio, and forced herself back to reality. He was gone, that was all.
Sighing, sensing the wall between them, he wished to leave the car, and suddenly he was not there, but sitting along the shores of the great inland sea, wondering if he would ever be able to move on without her.

(part 2 tomorrow, then weekly from here!)   If you like it please feel free to comment!  I need help finding a better title so if you have suggestions please comment!

Narcissus

Everything is quiet now

like the day after

The earthquake

nothing is as it was nor ever can be

and I am left staring at the detritus wondering if I lit the fuse

or you

what if id just gone along and

been still

what if id stood up for me

who were you really jumbled up in my mind remembering how you told me God came

To you

Spoke to you

like some Old Testament prophet

promised you we would marry you said

how you held me remembering how we planned our wedding our secret plans for Florida remembering how you wanted me constantly calling you hours on the phone hundreds of emails love bombing me move in with me you said

when I got there then you picked me up and

hurled me over the precipice

suddenly

watched impassively as I fell.

God took my love for you

You said.

Don’t go you said.

I heartbroken shattered

confused

Bewildered stayed

where did the love go not understanding it was never there oh no God took it he will give it back when you’re ready

I believed

You

twenty five plus years of knowing nothing about you

suddenly revealed

what you knew about me an unending supply of ammunition

weaponized,

you stopped one day while we walked you’re fat you said

words punching me in the stomach so proud of the weight I’d lost losing more

Insignificant you said

triumph seeing my anger and confusion

and that was the beginning of

the end I with no defenses while

Daily the bombs fell.

I hate how you eat you said

I hate how you look you said

I hate how you walk you said

I don’t like the way you talk you said

I don’t like your sense of humor you said

I don’t like where you came from your family are hillbillies you said

you’re uncultured you said

can’t have you around my family you said till I teach you to walk and talk and eat and act like a lady you said all dancing around in my head simultaneously remembering how smart you thought I was once how funny and vivacious you said I was beautiful we made loverunning into remembering late at night I on one side of your wall you on the other all leading up to the day when you said

You’re mentally ill and

we’ll never have anything until you’re fixed you said.

and you were going to wait and have faith and pray for me while God fixes me

You saint.

You saint.

poking away in my past pushing buttons doing all the things that hurt me I the child you the parent controlling what I ate what I drank how far we walked how I talked while

convincing me how different you are how good you are how healthy you are how while taking me apart brick by brick day by day

until

I am pieces I try to reassemble during the day when you are not there

when you gone is a relief

When you gone means I am free

until

I am nothing more than invisible to you nothing more than someone you used to know nothing more

nothing more than

nothing

I’m helping you, you said.

You’re too sensitive you said.

You should be grateful you said.

I give you everything you said.

Funny how words are worse than atomic bombs how they destroy the soul shatter the heart wound worse than shrapnel

“You’ll deserve me one day,” you said.

was I saved from you or by you or

was I dumped by you

God knows better than I

He set me free

He said.

pieces

the night draws near
softly on cat’s paws
and I out in it looking into pieces of light
dotting the navy sky
perhaps I am like them
pieces scattered over the black
I have been blind my whole life
intent for a finish
and I have been missing the rapture this whole
time of being forever incomplete

I am too enveloped in dreams
intangibles because reality is too near
and I have been walking through
the tunnels of my own mind
where daffodils fall from the sky
seeing myself in places
too remote to reach.

perhaps I am too near
and too far away
drawing breath in closed rooms
with no doors

around me grasses wave in gentle winds
and the sky is endless
and people drift in and out
clouds scudding across the sky.
perhaps I am Narcissus gazing endlessly
in still ponds
never seeing myself
in the afternoon glow.

there, I dance
whirling, a dervish
because the world does not spin fast enough
my mind carousels
spin
with you as foreign as a country I have never visited
I armed with only a flashlight
seeing parts never wholes

if I drew near to you
what then
I follow bread crumb trails to places with no
destination
no longer certain

diane o’leary 2009

artist: Jack Vettriano
artist: Jack Vettriano